WomensLaw is not just for women. We serve and support all survivors, no matter their sex or gender.

Important: Even if courts are closed, you can still file for a protection order and other emergency relief. See our FAQ on Courts and COVID-19.

Legal Information: Delaware

Statutes: Delaware

View all
Updated: 
April 8, 2020

§ 7704. Nonemergency hearings

(a) A petitioner may request a lethal violence protective order by filing an affidavit or verified petition in the Superior Court that does both of the following:

(1) Alleges that the respondent poses a danger of causing physical injury to self or others by controlling, owning, purchasing, possessing, having access to, or receiving a firearm.

(2) Identifies the location of any firearms it is believed that the respondent currently owns, possesses, has access to, or controls.

(b) The following procedures govern a nonemergency proceeding:

(1) The respondent has the right to be heard.

(2) If a hearing is requested, it must be held within 15 days of the filing of an affidavit or verified petition under subsection (a) of this section, unless extended by the Court for good cause shown.

(3) If a hearing is held, the respondent has the right to notice of the hearing, to present evidence, and to cross-examine adverse witnesses.

(4) The petitioner has the burden of proving by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent poses a danger of causing physical injury to self or others by controlling, owning, purchasing, possessing, having access to, or receiving a firearm.

(c) The Superior Court may adopt additional rules governing proceedings under this section.

(d) If the Superior Court finds by a clear and convincing evidence that the respondent poses an immediate and present danger of causing physical injury to self or others by owning, possessing, controlling, purchasing, having access to, or receiving a firearm, the Court shall issue a lethal violence protective order requiring the respondent to relinquish to a law-enforcement agency receiving the Court’s order any firearms or ammunition owned, possess, or controlled by the respondent. The Court may also do any of the following through its order:

(1) Allow the respondent to voluntarily relinquish to a law enforcement agency receiving the Court’s order any firearms or ammunition owned, possessed, or controlled by the respondent.

(2) Allow the respondent to relinquish firearms or ammunition owned, possessed, or controlled by the respondent to a designee of the respondent. A designee of the respondent must not reside with the respondent and must not be a person prohibited under § 1448 of Title 11. The designee must affirm to the Court and the Court must find that the designee of the respondent will keep firearms or ammunition owned, possessed, or controlled by the respondent out of the possession of the respondent.

(3) Prohibit the respondent from residing with another individual who owns, possesses, or controls firearms or ammunition. Nothing in this section may be construed to impair the rights, under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, § 20 of the Delaware Constitution, of an individual who is not subject to the Court’s order.

(4) Direct a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction where the respondent resides or the firearms or ammunition are located to immediately search for and seize any firearms or ammunition owned, possessed, or controlled by the respondent.

(5) Prohibit the respondent from residing with another individual who owns, possesses, or controls firearms or ammunition. Nothing in this section may be construed to impair or limit the rights, under the Second Amendment to the United States Constitution or Article I, § 20 of the Delaware Constitution, of an individual who is not subject to the Court’s order.

(6) Direct a law enforcement agency having jurisdiction where the respondent resides or the firearms or ammunition are located to immediately search for and seize any firearms or ammunition owned, possessed, or controlled by the respondent,

(e) If the Superior Court finds that there is not clear and convincing evidence to support the issuance of a lethal violence protective order, the Court shall not issue a lethal violence protective order, and shall vacate any emergency lethal violence protective order then in effect.

(f) If the Superior Court issues a lethal violence protective order under this section, the court shall inform the respondent that the respondent is entitled to 1 hearing to request a termination of the order under § 7705 of this title, and shall provide the respondent with a form to request such a hearing.

(g) If a respondent is not present for a hearing under this section, the Superior Court shall direct that a lethal violence protective order issued be served immediately upon the respondent by personal service, any form of mail, or in any manner directed by the Court, including publication if other methods of service have failed or deemed to have failed or deemed to have been inadequate.

(h) The Superior Court shall give a certified copy of the order to the petitioner and respondent after the hearing and before the petitioner and respondent leave the courthouse.

(i) Any party in interest aggrieved by a decision of the Superior Court under this section may appeal the decision to the Supreme Court.

(j) Relief granted under this section shall be for a fixed period of time not to exceed 1 year.